Freedom Oklahoma, Rose State host LGBTQ+ College Summit
by Robin Dorner
Editor in Chief
Freedom Oklahoma, the statewide political advocacy organization in Oklahoma that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, has joined forces with Rose State College to present the next College Summit on February 22.
“Events like Freedom Oklahoma's College Summit are valuable for participating students on multiple levels,” said Freedom Oklahoma Board Chair Brett Baldwin. “Not only do students benefit from expert-facilitated breakout sessions on a wide range of topics, they also get access to great resources from non-profits and the opportunity to meet and build friendships with hundreds of other students from across the state.
“Being LGBTQ+ in a small town can often feel isolating, and this event brings young people together to learn and grow in an affirming, positive environment.”
Many of these students attend smaller regional universities and community colleges, Baldwin said.
“There are several reasons why it’s important for the college to be involved in events like the College Summit,” said Professor Sarah Hoss, who is also the Faculty Advisor for Rose State College’s (RSC) Spectrum Alliance.
“First, it’s important for recruitment and retention. RSC is a small community college and maintaining enrollment is vital to its existence. Inviting guests to campus to attend events is a great way to advertise the services and resources we offer.”
Hoss said getting current students involved in these events also creates a stronger relationship between the students and campus life.
“Those relationships are important for retaining students, which maintains the viability of the college. Events like the College Summit also provide community outreach. Institutions of higher education are an excellent source for improving the quality of life for those in the community.
“The LGBTQ+ College Summit, for instance, is a terrific way to educate the public on what it means to be LGBTQ+ and to help ‘put a face’ on the LGBTQ+ community so that people realize these individuals are not as different propaganda would have them believe.
She said ultimately, colleges hosting events for the public is a win-win situation and should occur more often.
“For LGBTQ+ students, the College Summit provides an opportunity to network with individuals from the community to help them realize they are not alone.
“It is also very important for all students to be involved in the LGBTQ+ College Summit. For non-LGBTQ+ students, the College Summit provides an opportunity for them to become allies of the LGBTQ+ community. Becoming educated on different groups of people is the purpose of college and, through education, individuals become more supportive of those different groups.”
Hoss has advocated for RSC to be the host since she attended last year’s College Summit at Oklahoma University. She said everyone on-campus – students, faculty, and administration – have been very supportive.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of effort to make our campus culture more inclusive in anticipation of the Summit: policy changes with Faculty Senate, gender-neutral bathrooms, Faculty Ally Training, meetings with our Marketing Department, collaborations with our new Center for Success, Inclusion, and Diversity, collaborations with other student organizations, and campus activities with Spectrum. I invited our College President to the College Summit too, and I expect a big turnout on campus of RSC students.”
The Professor said LGBTQ+ college students, like all young adults, want to be loved and accepted.
“I am so inspired by their strength, bravery, and determination in a world that makes their existence harder than it should be. Nothing gives me more personal satisfaction than hearing their laughter and sharing in their joy. I am honored I get the privilege to be their faculty advisor.”
Hoss said Spectrum is very excited to host the next Summit.
“My Spectrum members are some of the most caring individuals I have ever encountered, and they truly want to make their world a better place for everybody. Just being able to witness and harness that energy is so powerful.”
For information about this event and registration, visit www.freedomoklahoma.org.
Copyright The Gayly – January 8, 2019 @ 10:20 a.m. CST.